To say it’s been an unusual season would be an understatement. From playing every game behind closed doors, to a busier-than-ever schedule, it’s clear that it’s taking a toll on teams. Not every team, though. This season posed a genuine opportunity for the club that could find some consistency, and Manchester City have managed to do it in style.
We’re past halfway now, and so it’s time to start considering who could realistically challenge for the title. But first, our friends at Casivo have taken a look at what has already happened this season, and what is playing a part in some pretty unusual results.
A Gruelling Schedule
Teams that are still in other competitions are playing frequently. Tuesday, Saturday and then Tuesday during some weeks. These are athletes at the top of their game, and fitness isn’t really the problem, but susceptibility to injury is. Last season ended late and the break before the new one was substantially shorter.
Liverpool are a prime example of bad luck when it comes to injury this season. They have a long list of first-team players currently unavailable, including Virgil Van Dijk, Diogo Jota and Joe Gomez. But Liverpool isn’t the only team feeling the struggle of the back-to-back schedule, with injuries playing a huge part for every club this year.
No Home Advantage
We’ve all wondered whether or not the home advantage in football is a myth. This year has proven that it really does play a part. It’s hard to bounce back from 2-0 at halftime with no crowd behind you.
There’s no denying that football is a spectator sport, and without spectators, players have struggled. There haven’t been as many shock results, and teams notoriously good at home have let form slip. There are other factors at play, of course, but it’s hard to not place some blame on the lack of home crowd.
So, What Has Manchester City Done Right?
Manchester City have managed to do what a lot of other teams haven’t, and that’s gone on a long winning streak. It is so tight at the top that a good run of wins would take you up there, and that’s exactly what they did. Now sitting 5 points clear with a game in hand over all of their closest rivals, it’s hard to imagine them losing any time soon.
Squad depth plays a huge part in such a busy season, and with the quality of the City bench, Pep has been able to rotate frequently. This has meant that the team have avoided any major injuries, and can rely on players to step up when asked.
It didn’t start that way though, with Pep’s team struggling at the beginning of the season, like many others. We mentioned earlier that consistency matters, and this is something that Manchester City have done well for years now.
Are There Any Contenders Left?
In any other season, you would be crazy to be trying to pick a winner at this point, with so many game weeks left, and only 11 points between 1st and 5th. But, this isn’t just any season, and we have seen enough from every team to question whether anybody is likely to challenge City for the title.
Mathematically, there are plenty of clubs still in the running. But realistically, we have narrowed it down to the two most likely challengers, Manchester United and Leicester. Both are in decent form, have minimal injuries and are previous winners.
The difficulty isn’t imagining these teams winning games and moving up, it’s expecting Manchester City to drop points. Solid at the back and confident at the front, there isn’t a single fixture left for City that looks like too much of a challenge. It’s hard to think that City won’t be lifting the trophy come the end of the season.
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